Who am I?

When thinking about writing this speech, this is the topic that came to mind. It’s so simple yet so complicated. What makes me, me? I don’t have an answer that I can fully explain, but what I can tell you is where I’m from, where I’m at, and where I’m going.

Fellow toastmasters and distinguished guests, thank you for having me.

WHERE I’M FROM

I was born in Berkeley, CA and lived in Alameda for the first few years. From there we moved to New Mexico where my Dad is from. I was still very young so I don’t have a lot of memories from there, but I can recall the hardwood floor that was in our home, and how cold it got during the winters. I also have a distinct memory of my Mom and Dad fighting on the phone.

After my parents divorced when I was about 3, we moved back to California. This time we lived in South San Francisco where my Uncle and his family lived. This is pivotal because this is where I would be for the next 5 years and it really shaped my childhood and the influences that guided me. To keep a long story short, the main experiences that I got from this period were 1) my family and the structure it gave me while growing up, and 2) the bullying during elementary school and the sense of not really belonging. These two major experiences have led to the conviction that my family matters more than anything to me.

From SSF, my mom, sister, brother and I moved to San Bruno. This turned out be another pivotal time because it is where I would be throughout high school. This is where I developed friendships that lasted long after the last bell sounded, and it’s where I would discover things like what kind of music I liked. The first rock song I remember hearing was in junior high, it was “Zombie” by The Cranberries. Prior to this I never really paid attention to music. It was there and I listened to it, but no genre, artist or band had ever stood out to me before.

The final point that I’d like to touch on is when I joined the Marines. After high school finished I was fed up with formal education; tests, essays, teachers, all of it. And the prospect of going straight to work didn’t sound appealing either. So I went with what was the most logical alternative… I joined the military. I had family who served and my father was in the Navy during Vietnam, but I wasn’t especially patriotic and it’s not something I really thought about before my Senior year, it just kind of was the next best thing to do. But despite all of that, it became a very important time for me. I learned that physically and mentally, I am much more capable than I realize I am. It also taught me to think about the whole instead of the individual.

WHERE I’M AT

Fast forward to the present and I’m finally at a point in my life where I feel a lot more comfortable in my skin.

For far too long I’ve been a people pleaser. So much so, that I was afraid to say no. I cared too much about how people saw me and whether or not it was in a good light. Over the last few years I’ve focused on finding a healthier balance, and that’s where I’m at now. I still care about people and wanting to help, but I have to take care of me and find peace with myself just as much. I’ve concluded that the best way to do this is to not overly criticize myself. To not be so hard on myself.

Although, I will say that for me it’s true that pain has made me stronger. From loss in relationships, family and life, I’ve started to pay attention to what’s really important to me. This is where it ties back to where I’m from… family. That is, has been, and always will be important to me. Right now, I will only “bend over backwards” for 8 people in my life, anyone outside of that will have to earn it.

WHERE I’M GOING

A few years ago I read a book called “The Celestine Prophecy”. The gist of the book is that it’s a story about one person’s spiritual awakening as they’re trying to uncover the mystery surrounding an ancient Peruvian manuscript. But for me, the main thread that stood out was the idea that as children we take a main lesson from each of our parents.

When I think of my mother and what she taught, not surprisingly, it was that family was important. That my siblings and I should always be united. From my father it was the idea that money isn’t important, purpose and doing what we enjoy is.

Taking these lessons and applying them to my future, this is what I want to share, family and purpose. I want to use everything else that’s been important in my life to get that word out; music, media, technology, my voice.

A lot of people say that “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”, but for me, that’s ridiculous. The destination is important, it’s what drives me, it’s my inspiration.

So who am I? If this whole speech hasn’t answered that, then who are you?

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